The government announced on Monday 29 January that it has opened a consultation on re-introducing fees in the employment tribunal and appeal system. Predictably, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has immediately hit back – saying the Tories are, of course, “taking the side of bad bosses”. Moreover, the government is clearly trying to claw back money after it has decimated the justice system.
Employment tribunals: fees on the way back?
Employment tribunal fees were introduced by the coalition government in July 2013. Before this, since the creation of the employment tribunal system in 1964, there were no fees for bringing claims or appeals.
The Supreme Court quashed fees in July 2017 following a challenge by the union Unison. The court said at the time that charging workers a tribunal fee “effectively prevents access to justice, and is therefore unlawful.”
It’s unsurprising that the Tories want to reintroduce charges – because employment tribunals dropped by 67% when fees were introduced.
Workers paying for Tory chaos
So, the government has launched a consultation on them. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said:
This consultation proposes the reintroduction of modest fees in the Employment Tribunals (ET) and Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), with the aim to contribute to the continuous improvement of His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service and reduce the cost to the taxpayer to fund these services.
The proposals discussed in this consultation are to introduce modest fees for claimants to bring a claim in the ET and appellants bringing an appeal in the EAT.
Of course, what the MoJ is really doing is trying to cover the fact that it has decimated the wider justice system in England and Wales through years of under-funding.
So, the TUC says that by seeking to reimpose fees the government is “taking the side of bad bosses” over workers exercising their rights.
Employment tribunal fees: ‘taking the side of bad bosses’
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said:
This is another example of ministers taking the side of bad bosses, not working people.
Now, the government wants to make it even harder for working people to seek justice if they face discrimination, unfair dismissal or withheld wages.
When P&O Ferries flouted employment law by sacking 800 workers without notice, they did almost nothing about it.
All working people should be able to enforce their rights. But introducing fees for tribunals puts yet another hurdle in the way of those seeking justice at their most vulnerable moment.
The Tories have already tried this and failed. Last time they introduced tribunal fees, claims dropped by two-thirds. And the Supreme Court threw them out – saying they interfered with access to justice.
Working people shouldn’t be picking up the bill for exploitative employers’ poor behaviour. Employment tribunal fees are just an invitation for bad bosses to ride roughshod over workers.
You can read and get involved with the consultation here.
Featured image via photobyphotoboy – Envato Elements